Did you know that one of the meanings of gem is someone or something that is useful or highly valued?
This is the festival issue of The Grapevine: you’ll find dates, locations, and very cool hints and opinions from people about their likes and dislikes. You do not need that from me, except to say that I love the ones right here, Devour! and Deep Roots being my personal favourites.
I would like to tell you about the gems, that I find: the people of our wonderful Valley and the interesting and fun things that you can do here. Some are as simple as walking our great trails and byways. Others require a little more thought and preparation. While you are walking along, you can pick up garbage that has been covered by the snow. Put a pair of rubber gloves and a couple of bags in your pocket, and you will be amazed at the amount of trash that you have collected. As I have mentioned before, there is also an Adopt-a-Highway program, either in your town or county. Contact your own municipality for more information.
Things like rollerskating/blading and skateboarding are all fun. What about geocaching, orienteering, map-making, fort building or scavenger hunts? Have you ever made plaster casts of your pets’ footprints or set a trail and had your friends or family follow it? Most Scouts and Guides could tell you how, but also you can find out how easy and fun these things are to do by searching on the internet. Does anyone play marbles, or hopscotch or jump rope anymore? Ask your parents or grandparents about these timeless gems.
With the arrival of warmer weather, maybe an interesting jaunt would be to find the first violets and take pictures of them, or any other early blooming plants. There are websites that you can access to identify your discoveries. If you find something interesting, do not pick it or dig it up, as it could be a rare species. Not good for our native plants. Speaking of that, when you plant in your own garden, try not to introduce plants that will take over and become problems in the years to come. Victorians and other gardeners through the years did that and that is why we have some very nasty invasive plants around like Japanese knotweed and goutweed. Ask at plant centres and gardening workshops, the vendors and assistants (some of those gems) are very helpful and informed. The members of gardening clubs are wonderful sources of information. There are some cool-weather-loving plants that can go in now or soon (check your local planting guide). Peas are a good example, and some people have started them now (in cold frames, etc.). But remember, if you are setting out tender plants, there is always a hard frost the first week of June, so protect those fragile seedlings.
Most towns have gems in the form of recreation departments that loan things. For example, Wolfville has spike ball, washer toss, ladder toss (maybe more). Do not forget the gems at the libraries, now lending more than books. Some branches lend bikes, and even e-bikes. Check out your local tennis and other outdoor courts.
More gems are our artists, musical and visual. Now that restrictions are letting up, go to a concert or dance. The Chimney Swifts have evenings at the Gaspereau Hall, and the West Brooklyn Speak-Easy is back up and running. Check out dates, times, and music. There are local galleries and shows. Films are being shown at the Whittle and the opera encores are back at Cineplex, and Stage Prophets is putting on a twenty-year anniversary production at Festival Theatre, on June 3, 4 and 5.
The gratitude that I have for this wonderful country and province is sometimes hard to express or contain. The written word is a great way for me, but the spoken word is as, if not more, powerful.
Remember to be kind to one another. Pleasantness, thoughtfulness, and consideration go a long way. Simple expressions of caring and respect will stay with someone for a long time.
Our most vulnerable gems are the hardworking healthcare workers who are still on the front lines battling the Covid-19 virus. Please stay safe, and protect others. Wear your masks. There are still people who are at high risk, be responsible: be a gem.